Is Halbig the End of Obamacare?: Michael Cannon Explains What Comes Next

|

Two court rulings on taxpayer subsidies for The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) underscore that President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment is still a hotbed of controversy—one likely to show up again in the Supreme Court's chambers.

"What this really about is not healthcare, not Obamacare," says Michael Cannon, director of health policy at The Cato Institute. "it's whether the president of the United States is in fact the president of the United States and subject to the Constitution or an autocrat that can impose taxes on his own."

Cannon, along with Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler, is the architect of the current legal challenge to Obamacare. Read their Wall Street Journal op-ed on the Halbig ruling.

Unlike many Republican politicians and conservative pundits, Cannon is no apologist for the pre-Obamacare status quo. Read his excellent 2009 policy study on how "a free market can fix health care policy" for a bracing alternative to both the Affordable Care Act and the muddle that existed before its passage.

About 12 minutes. Interview by Nick Gillespie, cameras by Amanda Winkler and Joshua Swain. Edited by Swain.

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

NEXT: Rogier Van Bakel on His Family's Mistreatment by Border Officials

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I give slightly better than even odds that the DC Circuit upholds the IRS on this, so there isn’t a conflict among Circuits, and SCOTUS dodges the case.

    1. Slightly better than even seems optimistic to me.

  2. “it’s whether the president of the United States is in fact … an autocrat that can impose taxes on his own.”

    You had to ask?

    1. I know right? Obviously he’s an autocrat!

  3. As with the Commerce Clause case, OCare is just the logical end of the road we started down decades ago. With the Commerce Clause, it was the redefinition of “interstate commerce” to include things that are neither interstate nor commerce.

    With the IRS case, it goes back to allowing federal agencies to write laws. The President has been an autocrat for decades, because he can enact laws on his own authority (there’s really no functional difference between a statute passed by Congress and a regulation adopted by an agency).

    In both cases, the ratchet has turned to the point where its no longer possible to pretend that the federal government has plenary power, and that the President can exercise that power with or without Congress.

    1. switch out “pretend” for “deny”.

    2. Yup. And as i understand it, there was opposition to letting the executive legislate. That it would lead to….well, exactly where we are now.

    3. (there’s really no functional difference between a statute passed by Congress and a regulation adopted by an agency).

      Sure there is, if you’re accused of breaking a law passed by congress you get a jury trial with the presumption of innocence. If you break the kings word you get a hearing in front of the kings men. You may or may not have to prove your innocence.

    4. but the executive regulations are supposed to under the umbrella of what the legislation allows. In this case the IRS directly contradicted the legislation, but the Virginia district judges said they have to defer to the agency’s “interpretation” of the law.

  4. Michael Cannon got his undergrad from UV and his double grad from George Mason.

    Lesson: The ivy’s don’t cultivate (or probably culturally tolerate) his kind of intellectualism (libertarianism). If you want to pursue this kind of education you must seek out institution outside the elite consensus.

    My oldest son is looking at colleges and is interested in finance, economics, business. We’ll be checking out George Mason for sure.

    1. There’s another plausible lesson to learn from this information…

      1. That you can argumentum ad populum with the best?

      2. Are you implying, Tony, that Michael Cannon is less intellectually gifted than an ivy graduate?

        You really are an elitist wanna be cock sucking sycophant.

        1. “You really are an elitist wanna be cock sucking sycophant.”

          No, he’s worse than that.

          1. Apropos from last night:

            https://reason.com/blog/2014/07…..nt_4658440

        2. Perhaps I’m suggesting that working for the CATO Institute and being intellectually gifted are mutually exclusive.

          1. Yawn…

      3. Yes, plausible but wrong.

      4. The most plausible lesson is that privileged schools that prepare the children of the privileged to take on their future roles of priviledged power have little self-interest in cultivating any ideas that undermine priviledge. For example, less powerful government.

        1. TO build on that: we’re up to about third generation of academics who have been taught only one version of things. They are on longer even capable of presenting more than one side to anything.

    2. Finance and business are grounded disciplines with measurable outcomes – often taught by conservatives even at liberal schools.

      Finding decent conservative economics professors is tough. I lucked into the class of a good one at USC. Wish I could remember his name.

      1. I lucked into an intellectually honest Marxist economics professor who recommended that I read Friedrich Hayek as a counterweight to John Roemer.

        Now that, in my opinion, is the rarest of rare. I still have fond memories of him, his demeanor, and his intellectual honesty to this day.

      2. Economics and math/engineering professors were the only ones that I found tolerable in my experience. Fortunately for me, I was an engineering student, so rarely did I have to put up with anyone else, save the occasional “humanities” and “social science” electives. I never had an econ professor with a bone of progressivism in his body.

        1. Accounting and finance profs were my favorite. They were all about bizness and none of that other malarky.

        2. Funny, I find math and engineering types to be insufferable in how they claim to be experts about all the stuff that people study in the humanities–like politics and philosophy. Why can’t you stick to engineering forums?

          1. Is anyone here claiming to be an expert on politics or philosophy?

            Is it impossible for an engineer to be knowledgeable about those subjects?

            Are you ever going to learn what a straw man argument is?

            Hint: all 3 questions have the same answer.

          2. Is anyone here claiming to be an expert on politics or philosophy?

            Is it impossible for an engineer to be knowledgeable about those subjects?

            Are you ever going to learn what a straw man argument is?

            Hint: all 3 questions have the same answer.

            1. It’s not theoretically impossible for an engineer to be knowledgeable about subjects that are the purview of the humanities (like pretty much every single thing ever discussed on this website). It’s just that there is probably a simple explanation for why engineers tend to be more libertarian and conservative than your average educated person.

              And it’s fine for anyone to shoot the shit about politics. But this planet is infested with engineers and math majors who insist on telling me that they know all the answers to questions I actually studied for years in the humanities and that they did not. It’s not like I go to engineering forums and tell everyone how to build bridges or whatever.

              1. But this planet is infested with engineers and math majors who insist on telling me that they know all the answers to questions I actually studied for years in the humanities and that they did not.

                There’s another plausible lesson to learn from this information…

              2. Go take it to an English degree forum then.

              3. Tony:

                But this planet is infested with engineers and math majors who insist on telling me that they know all the answers to questions I actually studied for years in the humanities and that they did not.

                Your hubris is astounding.

                You frequently make claims that are (essentially): there is no right and wrong. What, you think the sky gods determine what is right and wrong?

                That statement suggests such a complete ignorance of philosophy and ethics that it’s impossible to take you seriously.

                You then claim that your English degree has given you a special advantage over engineers in that it gives you the humility to know what you do not know.

                Then, you explain that engineers have the audacity to talk about subjects which you apparently studied for your BA degree in English, which lets you know that they’re absolutely wrong, and you’re absolutely right. Never explained farther than that, of course. What humble wisdom, especially when combined with the brain farts you frequently give us about philosophy, ethics, and sky gods.

                You are a parody.

                1. First of all, you are not accurately representing my credentials, but I’m not interested in divulging the specifics. Let’s say I had a well-rounded education in the humanities. Relevant to this discussion, I studied, in depth, philosophy and political science.

                  My point is that almost every conversation ever had on this website has to do with political philosophy or something like that. Not bridges. And I wouldn’t presume to pontificate about bridges.

                  More broadly, studying either the humanities or the hard sciences provides one with an education about how to think properly, not merely what to think.

                  If one has this training, one might be able to draw some useful conclusions from the data that show that people educated in the hard sciences and humanities tend to skew overwhelmingly liberal, and that people educated in engineering, business, and math tend to skew more conservative and libertarian. But what are we talking about? Politics, ethics, questions about how people should live–things the latter group didn’t ever study and that the former specifically did.

                  1. More broadly, studying either the humanities or the hard sciences provides one with an education about how to think properly, not merely what to think.

                    How convenient (subjective and myopic also come to mind). I suppose in this fantasy that you have constructed the harsh reality imposed by numbers takes a back seat?

                    Here’s an alternative hypothesis: It is interesting to note that the fields which you have presented (humanities, politics, philosophy vs. engineering, business, math) just happen to group nicely together relative to where their paychecks come from. Engineers typically work in the private sector while humanities types typically work for the government. So gee whiz, guess where their politics land?

                    I’m going to go with Occam on this one.

                    1. Humanities types typically work for the government? Huh? Did we institute the Department of Literary Criticism and I not notice?

                    2. Teaching isn’t a government job?

                  2. If one has this training, one might be able to draw some useful conclusions from the data that show that people educated in the hard sciences and humanities tend to skew overwhelmingly liberal, and that people educated in engineering, business, and math tend to skew more conservative and libertarian.

                    [citation needed]

                  3. But what are we talking about? Politics, ethics, questions about how people should live–things the latter group didn’t ever study and that the former specifically did.

                    Please explain how people who study hard sciences studied politics, ethics, and questions about how people should live in a way that engineers, math majors, and business majors don’t.

                    Also, seriously, citations. Are these just the usual stupid Republican Democrat breakdown bullshit?

                    Anyway, I’ve heard lots of explanations for why humanities and hard sciences break democrat, but you’re the only person I’ve heard posit that it’s because they studied oh so much humanities, which teach how people *should* *cough* *ethics* live.

                    Again, if humanities teach us so much about that, why are all your statements about ethics and morals usually some sort of brain turd about sky gods?

                    I assume that this website is the largest audience you get for the moments you choose to explain how everyone should live.

                  4. Tony:

                    First of all, you are not accurately representing my credentials, but I’m not interested in divulging the specifics. Let’s say I had a well-rounded education in the humanities. Relevant to this discussion, I studied, in depth, philosophy and political science.

                    Tony, you’ve previously stated that you got a degree in English. Which part of your credentials is incorrect? Because getting a degree in English and being a writer/editor does not make one an expert, with in depth study in philosophy and political science.

                    I seriously doubt a undisclosed degree in English from an undisclosed school has given you some advanced preparation for self-declared in depth study of philosophy and political science that’s just beyond math and engineering majors.

                    If so, could you elaborate on what that actually is? Because I really don’t see how an English major studies “how people should live”, or is more of an expert on that, or more prepared for that, than, say, a math, engineering, or business major.

              4. Yeah, all those people training to rely of provable facts, rigorous analysis, and repeatable results are really cramping the style of all those humanities folks who maintain that they are correct because, well, just because.

                Kinda like you Tony. You studied all those years, and still know nothing except opinions with no significant underpinning. It is wonderful how you can; Know Nothing, Prove Nothing, Analyze Nothing, but still know ALL.

                And DAMN those engineers and math majors who demand you actually prove something! Yeah, I can see how that upsets you.

                1. Oh, and by the way, don’t assume that the engineers didn’t take humanities. We do, really pulls the GPA up.

                  1. I’m not trying to disparage you. That stuff is all over my head. I’m grateful there are people with the brainpower to do it, obviously. I’m just saying, the topics here are not engineering-related. They are political philosophy-related.

                    By its nature arrogance is not bound by the actualities of your knowledge, so you may simply not be aware that your handful of electives in humanities classes isn’t the same as a full education on political philosophy.

                    1. Tony, most engineering students can pass classes like political science with ease. Humanities majors on the other hand, are often so bad at analytical thinking that they have to take dumbed-down math and science classes to get their breadth requirements.

                      The higher flunk-out rate for engineering students vs. English or psychology student is also a strong indicator of which subject is harder.

                      Getting an A in thermodynamics is hard. Regurgitating what a dipshit commy poli-sci professor wants to hear is not.

                      And the cherry on top of this derp sundae is your claim that liberal policies must be correct because people who study political science tend to be liberal.

                      Gee Tony, do you think it might be possible that the reason liberals are attracted to Mickey Mouse classes like poli sci and philosophy is because they are dull-witted and just looking for an easy A?

                    2. Tony:

                      isn’t the same as a full education on political philosophy.

                      If people have to have a full education on political philosophy in order to form coherent ideas of how people should live, how the hell is democracy supposed to work?

                      How can you simultaneously embrace the validity of whatever comes out of a democracy, while at the same time explaining that only someone with a full education on political philosophy can think correct thoughts about policy? It’s completely nonsensical.

                    3. Tony:

                      isn’t the same as a full education on political philosophy.

                      Tony, getting a degree in English isn’t the same as a full education on political philosophy.

                      Your entire argument is a stupid attempt at argument from authority, all the more ridiculous because you’re trying make arguments based on credentials as flimsy as an English degree. I’m not even sure that people who usually by arguments from authority would fall for that one.

                      Your ego is astounding. Let’s all watch Tony explain how math and engineering majors are wrong because they’re just so ignorant, when compared to the wise ways of the English major. Of course, they’d agree, if only they weren’t too ignorant to see it. How unfalsifiable and moronic.

          3. Interesting, I find all the humanities people generally incapable.

  5. Everyone in that picture has such machine-gunnable faces.

    1. My God. Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Waxman, Biden.

      It’s a murderer’s row of idiots. It’s like the 1927 Yankees of dipshittery.

        1. Weigel and Tony can be the Wonder Twins.

  6. Kindly stop putting interesting links behind a WSJ paywall.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.